From the beginning, TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia has complained that TrackingPoint’s automated firing technology’s not worth the considerable stack of cash needed to own it. For the same price as a TP rifle package you can buy a gun that’s just as accurate, and enough training to shoot it well. Their new M400 XHDR might be priced low enough to finally give skeptical consumers a reason to stop complaining about the price, and the size of the optic.
Now, though, TrackingPoint has upped their game. The new “killer app”: night vision capability. With the M400XHDR, you can swap optics between day and night hunting or buy an expensive intensifier tube for your existing scope. The TrackingPoint targeting system switches seamlessly from the standard optical system to an infrared based system for the night vision.
But first, a little on the specs . . .
Included in the box is their latest AR-15 based rifle. It checks all the usual boxes for a high-end AR: free floating handguard, solid stock and plenty of space for MLOK attachments. There’s also a full length top rail, making it easier to attach things like IR flashlights for extra illumination on the targets downrange.
Out on the front of the M400XHDR’s barrel, TrackingPoint fit a muzzle brake designed to fit Crux silencers. The system can be tuned to account for the point of impact shift that occurs when adding extra weight to the end of your barrel. The barrel itself is threaded in the usual 5/8ths thread pitch. You can remove the muzzle brake and fit whatever you want to the end.
There’s a reflector on the end of the M400XHDR’s barrel (the thing that looks like a front sight block, but isn’t). The reflector gives the system feedback on the location of the barrel as it moves when the barrel heats up, keeping the rounds precisely on target through sustained strings of fire. There’s a low profile gas block located much further under the handguard.
The system ships with four batteries, two of which can be slotted into the stock of the rifle to provide power for the scope and system. The gun will fire even without the scope attached and powered on — in case you need to shoot something after the batteries have been drained.
[Note: two of the batteries included in my package didn’t hold a charge. But given that this is a well used test kit I wouldn’t say that’s indicative of how they come from the factory. And if they die, TrackingPoint will help you replace them.]
So, does it work?
On the usual fixed distance range the rifle works as advertised. The TrackingPoint system accurately predicts the path of each projectile and hits the intended target. As with the previous versions you need to dial in the wind. With a little practice smacking the 250-yard steel targets gets boring, even though the M400XHDR’s chambered in.300 BLK. The maximum lock range is 400 yards, so the 500 yard targets are just out of range.
TrackingPoint recommends using their proprietary ammunition for the best performance, but those paying attention will note that their ammo is a flavor of the popular Barnes bullets. As such while the provided ammo gets the best results, standard off-the-shelf Barnes ammunition works just as well. I tested it myself and I couldn’t notice a difference so long as the bullet weight remains the same.
The system has a couple different functions.
There’s a “simple” version that throws up some crosshairs on the optic and lets you do all your own corrections. In “suppression” mode the scope will adjust for distance and let you engage targets as you see them. In precision mode, the shooter designates a target. The “guided trigger” will fire the firearm when the gun is on target. All of those work, and work well in daylight.
When the lights go out things get wonky.
The M400XHDR is equipped with a flip-down cover over the main sensor. It blocks out just enough light to be usable in the daylight, without frying the night vision sensors. Flipping that out of the way gives you the night vision functionality. Forget to do that and you’d need more IR lights and lasers to illuminate your target than exist in the state of Texas.
Once properly set up, the scope works about as well as any other Gen 2 night vision device. In other words, poorly.
The industry has moved on about two generations since this method was “state of the art” and for good reason. All the M400XHDR’s sensor does is read the IR light coming back into the scope, using built-in software to enhance the image. It doesn’t have an intensifier tube to increase the light coming into the sensor. As a result, the target appears fuzzy with a lot of noise distortion.
I took the rifle out to a local ranch and set it against a 100-yard target. I had significant problems tracking a stationary white steel plate. The image was too fuzzy for the scope to reliably track the target, and the precision fire mode didn’t reliably “lock on” and allow me to fire. More often than I’d like it threw up the “TARGET LOST” error message and gave up.
That’s a stationary solid target, illuminated with about two extra IR lights. I’d hate to think how it would work on a much darker, irregularly shaped and moving target like a hog. In short, the Gen 2 night vision implementation has too much noise to be useful.
Is theM400XHDR worth nearly $7,000?
If you were to buy a similarly accurized .300 BLK rifle with a good scope and a clip-on night vision scope you’d be looking at roughly the same amount of cash: $2k for the rifle, $2k for the night vision, and $1k for the scope for roughly $5k to $6k depending on how nice you want your gear.
At the moment I don’t see the value in spending the extra cash for TrackingPoint’s setup, but they are definitely getting closer to that magical intersection of price and technology.
Specifications: TrackingPoint M400 XHDR
Barrel: 16″ light contour
Weight: 11.4 pounds
Capacity: 30 rounds (standard AR magazines)
Caliber: 300 AAC Blackout
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
The gun functions as well as any other AR pattern rifle I’ve ever tested.
Accuracy * * * * *
No matter what you say about the TrackingPoint gun, their accuracy is beyond reproach. They guarantee 0.047 MoA out of the box and I believe it.
Utility * *
In daylight the gun works as advertised, but when the lights go out the night vision doesn’t live up to expectations.
Overall * *
We’re getting closer to the point where I could recommend buying a TrackingPoint rifle, but the technology isn’t there yet. A little better night vision technology would go a long way towards helping the system lock onto targets and track them in the dark.